By Rob Merrick

CHILDREN could be branded “extremists” simply for boycotting McDonalds under Government plans, a Bradford MP is warning.

Families which choose not to celebrate Christmas or which shop ethically could also be targeted by tough new guidance to prevent “radicalisation”, Naz Shah has claimed.

The Bradford West Labour MP accused David Cameron of turning his back on efforts to build closer community links and dialogue, to tackle the extremist threat.

Instead, the revamped ‘Prevent’ strategy - which came into force today - had become a “blunt hammer” which could be used to target innocent acts by young people.

Ms Shah said: “Some children refuse to eat at McDonalds because they have researched its links to Israel’s illegal settlements. Does that mean they are going to be extremists?

“Other families won’t buy any goods that have are sourced from those Israeli settlements, but that doesn’t make them anti-Israeli – just pro-Palestinian.

“And what about families that don’t celebrate Christmas? Does that mean they have extremist views?

“British values should include developing strong views and critical thinking in children, including fighting poverty and injustice. But this is an attempt to police them, rather than build trust.”

Ms Shah spoke out as the new ‘Prevent’ guidance - part of this year’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Act – come into force, imposing new responsibilities to halt extremist radicalisation.

Schools will have a duty of care to their pupils and staff, to stop them being “drawn into terrorism”, and to help challenge extremist ideas.

Local councils will have to make checks on the use of public buildings by after-school clubs and groups, with duties also imposed on health bodies and prisons.

The Home Office declined to respond specifically to Ms Shah’s comments, but pointed the Telegraph & Argus to comments by Security Minister John Hayes, announcing the new guidance.

Mr Hayes said: “We have seen all too starkly and tragically the dangers of radicalisation and the devastating impact it can have on individuals, families and communities.

“Protecting those who are vulnerable and at risk of radicalisation is a job for all of us. The new duty will make sure key bodies across the country play their part and work in partnership.”

Ms Shah – who helped run a Prevent project with Muslim women, in 2009 – also clashed with Mr Cameron in the Commons, saying: “Prevent is failing in its attempt to engage. Will he commit to a systematic review?”

But the Prime Minister replied: “I commit to engage with all communities, and we will continue to do that. I do not agree with what the honourable lady says.”

The Prevent duty applies in England, Wales and Scotland. The list of bodies subject to the obligation also includes NHS trusts, nurseries, schools, police, prisons and probation providers.

Universities and colleges will be included once further guidance on extremist speakers has been published.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools in England and Wales will receive guidance on identifying pupils in danger of radicalisation.

She suggested displaying an extreme intolerance of homosexuality was an example of the kind of behaviour that could cause concern.

"Sadly, Isis (Islamic State) are extremely intolerant of homosexuality," she told the BBC.

She added any action in those circumstances "would depend very much on the context of the discussion".

Ms Morgan said: "In this debate we need to have a very sensible, measured discussion. Schools are perfectly capable, they do this all the time.

"What this guidance is saying is that radicalisation ... is a very real threat in this country."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the Government's Prevent programme is already "causing significant nervousness and confusion among teachers".

She added: "The jury is out as to whether extra statutory requirements are the most effective way to help young people stay safe, think critically, or reject engagement with groups who advocate violence.

"If pupil well-being and safety is the aim, the Prevent strategy is felt by many teachers to be counter-productive and wide of the mark.

"It risks closing down the very opportunities where the classroom can be used to develop democracy and explore human rights."